Dark Mountain is both a refuge and an adventure. It’s an escape from false hope and teeth-gritting optimism, as well as a quest to investigate and redefine humanity’s place in the world. The escape isn’t from, but to, reality. The quest can be painful and exhausting, but rather than bringing me despair it brings a form of optimism deeper, and more truthful, than what I felt before. The extraordinary diversity of voices the books and wider movement attracts shows I’m not alone in feeling this.
Nick Hunt (author and editor) on why the Dark Mountain books matter to him
People hold books in a special way – like they hold nothing else. They hold them not like inanimate things but like ones that have gone to sleep.
- John Berger
Since we started Dark Mountain, we’ve prided ourselves on making books that you will want to hold on to. It’s not just the juxtaposition of different forms of writing and different approaches - intellectual, visionary and earthily-grounded - in each collection; it’s also the book as a physical object to be kept, given, loaned, borrowed or passed on from hand to hand.
Up to now, we’ve funded the Dark Mountain books through crowd-funding. This year, instead, we’re asking people to set up a subscription - you’ll get every book we publish, as soon as it’s out, for less than it costs anywhere else. (And we won’t have to hassle you to go and pledge on IndieGoGo every time we want to publish a book…)
Tonight’s Guardian poll reminded me of something I wrote a couple of years ago, about ‘the half-life of political distaste’. From an introduction to a conversation with @justinpickard:
In my lifetime, British politics has seen two extended periods of one-party rule, the Conservatives from 1979-97 and Labour from 1997-2010. These long tenures reflect what we might call the half-life of political distaste. For both parties, the opposition years represented a long wait for the distaste building at the current government to outweigh the lingering memory of its predecessor.
In the long crisis which broke in 2008, the effects of which are still playing out, events may be running faster than is allowed for by the natural decay of political distaste. If Labour under Gordon Brown was slowing down the social impact of crisis, while Osborne, Cameron and Clegg’s attempts to cut the deficit at all costs are accelerating it, Britain’s first “collapsonomics” election may well be not that far off. In the absence of electoral reform… it is hard to see where the equivalent pressure valve of democratic discontent will come from, to match the role of new political forces in the elections Justin describes. Can we return to the relatively rapid cycling between Conservative and Labour governments which marked the crisis years of the 1970s? Could new political forces somehow emerge through the existing electoral system – or even within the existing monolithic party structures? What role is there for outsiders in British politics?
Respondents were asked whether, despite the recession, they were “basically confident that our children’s generation will end up enjoying a better standard of living than our generation, just as our generation has mostly been better off than our parents”, the reassuring rider reminding them that – whatever the ups and downs of the cycle – the slow miracle of economic growth has eventually touched most family’s lives, by roughly doubling the size of the world’s big economies every 30 years. But even after this prompt, 19% of Britons, 15% of Americans, 16% of Germans and 17% of the French agree with this statement. Instead, overwhelming respective majorities of 64%, 65%, 66% and 59% incline to the view that “the younger generation will find it harder than ours to enjoy a reasonable standard of living”.
A Facebook page has been set up to help promote “suspended coffee,” a way to pay-it-forward by purchasing a coffee for a stranger… The idea of suspended coffee is to purchase a coffee for someone who may seek a coffee later in the day, yet is unable to afford one… According to Snopes, suspended coffees are an “old Italian tradition” and the concept has since spread to other areas. There are over 150 cafes throughout Bulgaria that have joined the movement and many are looking for ways to initiate it in other areas as well.
What I discovered in Tepito was a vivid illustration of how people could participate in the capitalist market economy yet subordinate that participation to their own needs. How instead of being caught up in the logic of the market, of profit making, of ever more work, of a consumerist approach to life, they could limit their work of production and selling to whatever was required to permit their real life activities: personal interaction, collective self-organization, intense struggle against the Mexican state for the preservation of their autonomy and the continuous elaboration of their own ways of being and interrelating to each others and the to the rest of Mexico.